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February 20, 2019

Refer House supremacy contest to Supreme Court

A file photo of the Parliament building in Nairobi.
A file photo of the Parliament building in Nairobi.

The Senate and National Assembly are locked in a simmering turf war over their roles. Yet, to borrow the cliché, the law is very clear on the functions of the two Houses of Parliament.

Article 93(2) of the Constitution sets out the “respective” functions of the National Assembly and the Senate. The Assembly “exercises oversight over national revenue and its expenditure”, “reviews the conduct in Office of the President, the Deputy President and other State officers, and initiates the process of removing them from office”. It also “exercises oversight of State organs”. 

The Constitution also defines the role of the Senate as being to “represent and protect the interests of the counties and their governments”. Its law-making functions are limited to “considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties” and “determining the allocation of national revenue among counties".

It exercises oversight over “national revenue allocated to the county governments”.

From the foregoing, it is clear that senators have no business scouring newspapers for scandals and summoning officials and heads of State departments performing national government functions to interrogate them.

The friction that is being portrayed as a case of overlapping mandates is false. It is about the penchant for MPs to ingratiate themselves on the public purse which they are unlikely to resolve on their own. It should urgently be referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

Quote of the Day: “Wisdom oft times consists of knowing what to do next.”

Herbert Clark Hoover

The 31st US President was born on August 10, 1874.

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